On book hunger (part II)

Next day I am at a school in North London, a very good school, whose name we all know. It is a school for boys. Good buildings, and gardens.
These pupils have a visit from some well known person every week, and it is in the nature of things that these may be fathers, relatives, even mothers of the pupils. A visit from a celebrity is no big deal for them.
The school in the blowing dust of northwest Zimbabwe is in my mind, and I look at those mildly expectant faces and try to tell them about what I have seen in the last week. Classrooms without books, without text books, or an atlas, or even a map pinned up on a wall. A school where the teachers beg to be sent books to tell them how to teach, they being only eighteen or nineteen themselves, they beg for books. I tell these boys that everybody, everyone begs for books: "Please send us books". I am sure that everyone here, making a speech will know that moment when the faces you are looking at are blank. Your listeners cannot hear what you are saying: there are no images in their minds to match what you are telling them. In this case, of a school standing in dust clouds, where water is short, and where, at the end of term, a just killed goat cooked in a great pot is the end of term treat.
Is it really so impossible for them to imagine such bare poverty?
I do my best. They are polite.
I'm pretty sure of this lot there will be some who will win prizes.
Then, it is over, and I with the teachers, ask as always, how the library is, and if the pupils read. And here, in this privileged school, I hear what I always hear when I go to schools and even universities.
"You know how it is. A lot of the boys have never read at all, and the library is only half used."
"You know how it is." Yes, we indeed do know how it is. All of us.
We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women who have had years of education, to know nothing about the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers.
What has happened to us is an amazing invention, computers and the Internet and TV, a revolution. This is not the first revolution we, the human race, has dealt with. The printing revolution, which did not take place in a matter of a few decades, but took much longer, changed our minds and ways of thinking. A foolhardy lot, we accepted it all, as we always do, never asked "What is going to happen to us now, with this invention of print?" And just as we never once stopped to ask, How are we, our minds, going to change with the new Internet, which has seduced a whole generation into its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging and blugging etc.


  1. Senhor Manel said...
    muito interessante...! (como tudo que têm aqui.) obrigado.

    (p.s.: querido pai natal, por favor reduz o número de posts nesta página, que leva tanto tempo a abrir no meu pc... por favor, só um pouco, não custa nada...!! [settings --> formatting --> show])
    V said...
    I would like to know any Moleskine 2008 dairy(pocket size) available in your shop?
    teresa said...
    Hi, yes we do. Why don't you drop by and see what else we've got? ;-) Cheers! Happy X'mas!
    V said...
    Yes, i do. I have visited your shop this afternoon.
    Looking forward to your notification when the pocket size softcover diary arrive soon.
    But the way, your shop is very nice, very rare in Macau.
    Cheers and Merry X'mas !
    teresa said...
    Dear V. the soft cover pocket diary is sold out, but more coming.
    Meanwhile we received Taschen's Diaries - Botero, Dali and Van Gogh. The ones from Robert Doisneau are no longer available as Taschen sold out this model.

    Thanks for coming! Will let you know when the soft-cover diaries arrive.
    Happy New Year!

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